TV picks: Colbert at the Emmys, 'Vietnam War' on PBS, and more

Emmys Predictions
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "Veep." she could set a new record if she wins a sixth consecutive Emmy on Sunday for lead actress in a comedy

69th Primetime Emmy Awards8 p.m. Sunday, CBS. President Trump isn’t in the running, but the chances Emmy viewers won’t be hearing about The Apprentice’s former firer-in-chief are close to zero.

Host Stephen Colbert, who has plenty to say about the president most weeknights on The Late Show, recently told Variety: “The biggest story of the year is not Westworld. It’s not The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s not Milo Ventimiglia’s luscious abs [on This Is Us]. That’s not what we cared about. … The biggest TV star of the year is Donald Trump.”

If Colbert just left it at that, the president might be fine with it. (Trump’s lack of an Emmy, and his supposed chagrin about it, even arose during the presidential debates.) Chances are, Colbert’s not going to stop there, though.

Still, they do give out awards at these things, and while I’m sticking with my tradition of not picking  winners — because I don’t bet on things I don’t understand, and I may never understand Emmy voters — I’m guessing you’ll hear about some of those shows Colbert mentioned.

Read more: Complete list of 2017 Emmy nominations

With HBO’s Game of Thrones having put itself out of the running this year by not returning until after the eligible period, the drama category’s worth watching. Besides NBC’s This Is Us, HBO’s Westworld, and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, nominees include three Netflix series, The Crown, Stranger Things, and House of Cards, as well as AMC’s Better Call Saul.

Nominated for outstanding comedy are FX’s Atlanta, ABC’s Black-ish, and Modern Family, Netflix’s Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — from Upper Darby’s Tina Fey and HBO’s Silicon Valley and Veep.

Read more: Black-ish creator says Emmy would be win for family-friendly TV 

Other things to watch:

  • Whether Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus picks up a sixth consecutive Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy and sets a new record with the streak. Maybe you’re sad the show will be ending after next season. Her competition? Maybe not so much.
  • Whether This Is Us, the creation of University of Pennsylvania grad Dan Fogelman lets NBC thumb its nose at cable with a win in a category the broadcast networks haven’t taken since Fox’s 24 in 2006.
  • Whether The Handmaid’s Tale, either as outstanding drama or for star Elisabeth Moss, puts streaming service Hulu in the winner’s circle. Hulu may not be programming as aggressively as Netflix — whose Stranger Things is also getting a lot of love — but the attention it’s getting for the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel is well-deserved.

The Vietnam War. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and written by Geoffrey C. Ward, the team behind The War, Prohibition, and Baseball. It’s a dense, often revelatory look at the history, politics, and grim realities of the conflict that doesn’t confine itself to America’s experience. Among the dozens of witnesses interviewed are Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both sides. 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and Sept. 24-28.

Read more: Two Philly-area veterans help bring PBS’ Vietnam War home

The State. Fictional two-night miniseries from Britain’s Channel 4 about individuals who go to Syria to join ISIS.  9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, National Geographic Channel. 

Gotham. New night, new hero? The fourth-season premiere, which will be followed at 9 by the time-period premiere of Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville,  opens a season in which we can expect the landscape to look a bit more like the comic books, as Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) moves closer to his destiny as the guardian of the city. 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox.

Doc Martin. Fans of Martin Clunes, rejoice. The eighth season of the British show about a blood-phobic, bloody-minded doctor is finally here (though you’ll need a subscription to the Brit-centric Acorn streaming service to see it). New episodes will be released weekly, the day after their premiere on Britain’s ITV. Thursday, Acorn TV.

Transparent. Dramedy about transgender parent Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) and her wildly neurotic family is also back for a fourth season. Friday, Amazon.

Gaga: Five Foot Two.  Chris Moukarbel’s cinema verité-style documentary about a year in the life of  Lady Gaga — aka Stefani Germanotta — premiered this month at the Toronto Film Festival and reportedly includes preparations for her Super Bowl halftime show and the release of her studio album Joanne, as well as her struggles with chronic pain. Friday, Netflix.